We all experience points in our refereeing careers where we face challenges, difficulties and issues. Often, we are told by colleagues and mentors, “Be strong, you’ll get through this,” or “You need to be more resilient”. But what does that mean, and how can we achieve it in a practical sense?
What Does Resilience Mean?
In essence, being resilient means being able to adapt and bounce back when something difficult happens out in the middle. It is the ability to once again pick ourselves up after making an error on a key match incident or painful experience.
Our levels of resiliency will change and develop throughout our careers, and at points, we will find that we do not cope as well as some of our colleagues, as well as surprising ourselves when we manage a difficult situation. In another sense, resilience is just one of many psychological tools we implement to get us back to feeling good about our refereeing again.
Why is Resilience Important?
As we all know, when we are in a weakened position where we feel as if things are going from bad to worse, it can be very difficult to find a foothold, in terms of gaining match control over a game, or to recover and regain stability following an error.
Resilience is important for several reasons; it enables us to develop mechanisms for protection against experiences that could be overwhelming, such as a mass confrontation, it also helps us to maintain balance in our lives during difficult or stressful periods, and can also protect us from the development of some mental health difficulties and issues.
The Benefits of Resilience
- Improved learning and progression opportunities.
- Lower likelihood of missing appointed fixtures.
- Reduced use of risk taking behaviours away from the field of play, such as excessive drinking, smoking or use of drugs.
- Increased involvement in developmental sessions with colleagues.
- A lower rate of mortality and increased physical health.
Are There Different Types of Resilience?
The phrase ‘emotional resilience’ may be one which you have heard before. It is quite a simple term that refers to how able we are to manage the emotional impact of stresses, difficulties and challenges in our careers. However, there are different sorts of resilience that we develop and need throughout different points in our careers.
Inherent Resilience – This is the natural resilience with which we are born. This natural resilience protects us, and informs how we discover and explore the world; learn to play, learn and also take risks. This sort of natural resilience occurs a great deal within children under the age of about seven, (provided their development was not disrupted and they did not experience any sort of trauma).
Adapted Resilience – This type of resilience occurs at different points in our lives and is usually brought about through a difficult or challenging experience. Making a mistake on a Saturday afternoon fixture, and not repeating it in your Sunday morning game, or sustaining a knee injury, and finding the strength to, over time, rebuild your sense of confidence to once again trust your knee at your previous fitness level. Adaptive resilience is resilience that needs to be learnt on the spot and can give us the ability to manage stresses and pain.
Learnt Resilience – This type of resilience is built up over time, and we learn to activate it through difficult experiences from past fixtures. We learn to know when to draw on it, and to use it during testing times in our careers. It is through this resilience, which we learn, grow and develop our mechanisms for managing games, and find ways to draw on the strength we did not know we had in times when we need it the most.
How Can we Develop More Resilience?
There are several ways that we can develop more resilience during difficult or stressful points within our refereeing careers. I have listed some of these below:
Make Some Lifestyle Changes – Practice being more straight up and assertive with players and club officials. If you feel these people are making unreasonable demands upon you during be prepared to tell them how you see things and say no. Prior to fixtures, use relaxation tips, and take time to do the things which calm you down, whether it is taking a bath, going for a walk or listening to music.
Away from officiating, develop your interests and hobbies, and make time for them. Make time to spend with family and friends, and make use of your support network around you. Assess the sense of balance in your life. If refereeing is taking up all your time, then make some space for other things.
Look After Your Physical Health – Get a good night’s sleep, and develop better sleeping patterns. Try and be more physically active, and train with a regular routine. Make sure to eat a more balanced and healthy diet.
Be Less Hard on Yourself – Find time to praise yourself for your achievements and reward yourself for what you have accomplished in your refereeing career. Away from officiating, seek to resolve old or existing conflicts, this can be difficult, but settling arguments, or finding a new way to move forward with a friend or loved one will assist you in finding a sense of peace. Forgive yourself, if you did not achieve what you wanted by the end of your season, or you feel you have made mistakes, ease up on punishing yourself and try to remember that no one is perfect.
There will be times in all of our careers when pressures mount or we experience disappointments and difficulties, and at points, we will struggle to cope. However, through learning about ourselves and realising what we can and cannot manage, we will be able to develop strategies that allow us to become resilient, to take these difficulties in our stride, and to feel confident in our abilities to manage the fixtures we are appointed to.
This is a process like any other and does not just happen, but in each of us, there is strength, and courage we did not know we had.
At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops and 1-2-1 sessions associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops and 1-2-1 sessions are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help themselves and each other.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops or 1-2-1 sessions and how I could help you or your officials.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team
Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team. A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.